By Sheila Mae H. Toreno
Western Visayas is still the third highest palay producing region in the country after yielding 2,356,902.44 metric tons (MT) of palay in 2021, which is 2.67 percent higher than the previous year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data.
But Department of Agriculture (DA) Western Visayas Rice Program coordinator Elmer B. Cabusas said the region missed its target production due to bad weather in the later part of the year.
“However, palay production here went below the targeted 2,500,851 metric tons considering the 143,949.37-metric ton damage in the rice sector brought by Typhoon Odette last December,” Cabusas said.
Production volume in irrigated areas was 1.13 million MT tons while rainfed farms yielded 1.22 million MT.
This resulted in an average yield of 3.48 MT per hectare (ha.) in 676,927 has. of rice farms in the region.
Tagged as a priority area for the hybridization program, Iloilo tops the regional data with 1,018,989.02-MT production in 2021 and reached a 196.59 percent sufficiency level.
Negros Occidental came next with 483,534 MT production, Capiz (383,809.56 MT), Antique (302,746 MT), Aklan (106,547.11 MT), and Guimaras (61,276.75 MT).
Although Western Visayas has a 136.90 percent rice sufficiency rate, the provinces of Aklan and Negros Occidental have inadequacies in rice production with a sufficiency level lower than 100 percent.
Cabusas added that the increasing DA funds for production subsidy enabled higher production outputs.
For instance, the inputs earmarked and delivered under the Bayanihan Acts in 2020 contributed to the harvest last year.
In 2022, DA seeks to produce 2.48 million MT in the region as it has ongoing procurement of 60,000 bags (15 kilograms per bag) of hybrid seeds intended for farmers in Iloilo and 91,119 bags (40 kilograms per bag) of certified inbred seeds for Iloilo and Guimaras.
“Those who are in the master list of seed recipients will also be provided with P3,000.00 worth of fertilizer voucher for hybrid seeds and P2,000.00 for inbred seeds. However, farmers in the four provinces are covered under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Seed Program,” Cabusas explained.
This wet cropping season, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) aims to distribute 298,778 bags (20 kilograms per bag) of certified inbred seeds: 34,550 bags for Aklan; 74,300 bags for Antique; 85,430 bags for Capiz; and 104,498 bags for Negros Occidental.
To optimize the seed utilization and technology adoption in growing high-quality seeds, DA-PhilRice has put up Palay Sikatan Technology Demonstration Farms in Aklan, Antique, and Capiz.
Recommended cultural management practices in cultivating national, regional, and newly released inbred seed varieties were showcased to farmers through the help of the local agricultural offices.
“Considering the inevitable increase in the costs of inorganic fertilizers, we have also procured soil ameliorants to be distributed along with the seed inputs,” Cabusas added.
For farmers to avail of the seeds and fertilizer subsidies, they shall be listed under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA). As stipulated in the guidelines, only those farmers in the RSBSA can access interventions from the government.
“Those who are not yet listed in the RSBSA are advised to visit their Municipal Agriculture Offices. We are thankful to our partners in the local government units who were instrumental in implementing and distributing our support and subsidies to farmers. Their efforts had contributed to the increase in our palay production despite the occurrence of the typhoon,” Cabusas said.
On the other hand, the DA-Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) allocated P614 million for the RCEF Farm Mechanization Program for 123 town beneficiaries in Region 6 this year.
Four-wheel drive tractors, rice combine harvesters, transplanters, dryers, among others, can only be given to registered and accredited farmers’ cooperatives and associations.
The top two rice producers in the country were Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley, according to the PSA data. (DA-RAFIS 6)